Tag Archives: historical fiction

The YA Protagonist’s Age: You’re 17? Me too!

15 May

The young adult genre is normally defined by coming-of-age stories, where the protagonists are often between the ages of 14 and 18. That being said, if you are publishing a YA story right now, chances are your protagonist is 17 years old.

So why are most YA protagonists 17?

Short Answer: The protagonist is old enough to be on the cusp of adulthood but young enough to still be considered a young adult.

Long Answer: Adding to the short answer above, 17 years old is also highly regarded because the target audience reading YA right now is not necessarily teenagers. In fact, most studies indicate that the main audience buying YA is 18-27. (Many teenagers are more focused on fan fiction online—another topic for another day.) But focusing on the older aspects of teenage years is currently more sellable than the younger teenage years of 14-16.

Basically, 17 years old seems to be the sweet spot in YA right now, especially for crossover YA, but I would love to see more variety.

In fact, I find it incredibly uncomfortable how much we are focusing on the age of 17. It’s almost as if every teenager on the planet will have a revelation in that year of their life…and that’s highly unrealistic.

Teenagers do not go through the same issues at the same time. Not everyone falls in love for the first time at 17. Heck, I’m pretty sure half my class was “dating” in middle school, and, yes, that “dating” included some pretty adult things. In fact, let’s talk about that.

Sex is being introduced to YA on a more often, regular basis. (And that’s another debate.) But I think this addition is one of the main factors behind the focus on aging up protagonists. The average reader might feel okay reading about a 17-year-old, who is practically “free” of childhood, but a 14-year-old might cause different reactions. But people face different issues at all ages. Let’s take historical fiction as an example. The average age of a Civil War soldier might have been 26, but boys as young as 12 served as drummers. You’re now talking middle grade fiction, let alone young adult. I think it’s especially okay to give younger protagonists bigger roles in YA historical, but 17-year-olds still take the center stage, and while I understand the marketing aspect, I wish we could get over it.

I went against the grain when I featured a 14-year-old protagonist in my latest YA series, because I think variety is important.

In fact, I’m going to stick my neck out and say one of the reasons young readers (actual teenagers) are reading less YA and focusing on Harry Styles fanfiction on Wattpad is because of how much YA is currently being marketed for older audiences. Ally Carter, author of the Embassy Row series, recently talked on Twitter about how “sweet” young adult fiction is all but missing from the main market. Darker, older, edgier materials are hot, and while that’s awesome for readers like me who enjoy those books, many teens are feeling left out of their own genre…and that’s not okay.

When I was young, I grew up with Cammie in the Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter. Her character aged over a few years, and I loved it. The series starts off quick and short and sweet, and as Cammie grows, the content gets darker, more mature, and complicated. In fact, there were a lot of series like that when I was younger, and I LIVED for them. (Hello, Harry Potter.) When I’m at book signings and teenagers tell me how they struggle to “relate” to YA anymore, I feel for them. I truly do.

Teenagers deserve younger and older protagonists—all going through a variety of topics and struggles. They deserve to feel welcome in their own age bracket.

I lost my mom at 11. I moved for my seventh time when I was 12. I had a stepfamily when I was 13. I started high school and my first long relationship at 14. I got in my first car wreck at 15. Heck, I got my license at 15, because, Kansas. (Farmer’s permits—driving by yourself to work and school—were pretty common.) I started my first job at 16. I published my first book at 16! I graduated high school at 17. I turned 18 one month before I moved out and went to college. And sex? I was 19. All of these topics are seen in YA…but they’re mainly assigned to 17-year-olds. Why?

Not everyone has their first “coming-of-age/independent” moment at the same time.

So why are all of our protagonists the same age?

~SAT

Advertisements

My Hate-Love Relationship with Historical Fiction

8 May

I love historical fiction. In fact, I’m currently binge reading, watching, and writing it right now. But I have a beef with it. (Does anyone even say that anymore? No? Oh, well.) If you’re curious, I’m reading Stalking Jack the Ripper, watching Reign, and writing a book set in the ancient world. Very different time periods, but all can easily fall into my hate-love with the genre.

So what is my issue with the genre?

My biggest pet peeve with historical fiction is when I look up the factual story and the factual story is MORE—more fascinating, bizarre, fun, gory, symbolic, or anything MORE.

Let’s look at a few examples:

In the movie The Revenant with Leonardo Dicaprio, Hugh Glass fights his way back from the wilderness to enact bloody revenge on the two who left him to die. In real life? He actually tracked down the two men and ultimately forgave them, because it was better for society. (One was a solider and the other a young man with a family.) I actually LOVE the real version, because I think it teaches us more about survival and sympathy and societal sacrifice. But forgiveness doesn’t feed into the bloody climax many expect, does it? (On a side note, Hugh Glass could’ve been a pirate…but that also doesn’t make it into the movie either. Boo.) Here’s an article if you’re interested in more info: The Real Story of ‘The Revenant’ is Far Weirder (and Bloodier) Than the Movie.

In Reign, the show follows Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland, as she marries the Dauphin of France. And it’s entertaining, don’t get me wrong. Lots of betrayal, murder, and sex. But the real-life version, if the show had been expanded to show more years, has MORE. Nearly everyone loses their head, country, or both. (It’s very Game of Thrones.) What I find strange, though, is not the focus but some of the blatant inaccuracies portrayed as fact. For instance, the show takes (weird?) liberties in taking shots at the blond hair Francis has when Mary herself was famous for blond-red hair, while Francis was the brunet. They even go as far as to say all Scots have dark hair. (Or bringing her mother into it, when they never saw one another after her childhood.) In real life, over time, there are three husbands. (Perfect for a trilogy, no?) That aside, I’ll absolutely acknowledge that brutal story is not the target audience or goal for the romantic TV show on the CW. Which brings me to my next point…

I don’t blame the authors or any creators behind this. Why? Because I get it. Truth is often stranger than fiction. If you wrote down some of the actual events that happened, readers or viewers would have a harder time believing that than the completely fictionalized version of an event. Not to mention that life doesn’t serve a linear, symbolic purpose…and with stories, that’s the whole point, especially when you bring genres and expectations for that genre into play. Not to mention the traditional narrative viewers and readers expect from certain historical periods. 

It was discovered, for instance, that slaves were not used to build the Great Pyramids. Skilled (and paid) craftsman were, which is why they could stage protests. (In fact, the first protests we now know of.) But our fictional worlds have yet to reflect this. (Oh, did I mention they were often paid with beer? I mean, come on.)

History—and what we understand of history—is constantly changing, and the genre should change along with it.

I want to see more Norse women out on Viking Voyages, as skilled seafarers. (Source) I want to see black cowboys (Source). I want to see skilled craftsmen building the pyramids (Source). I want to see the female sailors on the doomed Franklin expedition, especially since the entire crew was reported to be male (Source). I want to see an all-female battalion in the Russian Revolution (Source). I want MORE.

I get that it might be a little strange to see some of your favorite historical figures (and narratives) in a different light. But why not?

Why not challenge the traditional narrative, especially if it’s backed up by science and other types of studies? Why not write a version that’s based in factual evidence more than on speculation? On the opposite end, why not write a version that owns the fact that it’s not based in reality at all, like My Lady Jane (where royalty can shape-shift into animals)? Why not push those limits and expectations of what historical fiction can be? (On a side note, there’s actually a really funny/enlightening Oatmeal comic on why this is so difficult, and you can read it here.)

Historical fiction has limitless, constantly changing possibilities, and I cannot wait to see how it morphs in the future.

~SAT

#SATurdate: Salt to the Sea, Death Note, The Turncoat’s Gambit, & Tallulah

2 Jul

What I’m Writing:

Honestly, I go through phases where I dread writing. Mainly because I’m stretching myself too thin and/or trying to find my footing in my next project. I think I’m in the middle of both of those issues. I have three completed manuscripts—one of which needs editing—I want to start something new, but I’m also EXHAUSTED. All that being said, I started yet another novel. It’s my second attempt at a contemporary, but again, I. am. struggling. I know I’ll find my footing in one of my projects, but I haven’t hit solid ground yet. Between BFest, Bad Bloods releasing, and my day job, life hasn’t afforded me a lot free time for writing either (which might be part of the problem). Let me put it this way, I only wrote 5,000 words…in June. IN ALL OF JUNE. I need a hug. But I will power through it!

What I’m Publishing:

A new review is in of November Snow! “Truly, Thompson has done an incredible job here of story weaving. Just wonderful. Don’t underestimate your need for tissues here people, don’t do it. Prepare yourself with tissues and a cuddly stuffed animal.” – Babbling Books (Seriously, listen to her advice. Tissues will come in handy.)

Catelyn's Story on Wattpad

Catelyn’s Story on Wattpad

This week, Catelyn’s Story released on the FREE Bad Bloods Prequel on Wattpad. This is also the first origin story seen from the Southern Flock’s perspective. They formed later than the Northern Flock, so from now on, you’ll see stories flip back and forth between the two flocks. If you ever wondered why the groups of bad bloods are called flocks, this origin story explains why! In Bad Bloods, Catelyn is Serena’s best friend. Here is a preview: The girl was pretty enough for plenty of crimes. Read her story by clicking the link.

Also, because I created three cartoon photos of the first three characters, here are three cartoon versions of the most recent stories: Ryne, Violet, and Catelyn.

Ryne, Violet, Catelyn

Ryne, Violet, Catelyn

The #1lineWed theme was “sky” so here is your weekly preview:

Pre-Order Bad Bloods

November Rain, Part One, releases July 18, 2016

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, Goodreads

Visit the Pinterest and Facebook Pages.

Preorder Bad Bloods

Preorder Bad Bloods

What I’m Reading:

Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea

I began and finished Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys. Heartbreaking and terrifying, yet informative, Salt to the Sea is an emotional story about the Wilhelm Gustloff, the single greatest tragedy in maritime history. Told from four different perspectives, Sepetys focused on young adults and how World War II was affecting their lives forever. I highly recommend this book to everyone, especially those who wish to learn more about how WWII affected the youth and what happened to the Wilhelm Gustloff. All that being said, this book is not for the light-hearted. Though I still think the light-hearted should read it, Salt to the Sea is graphic. I know there are scenes that will never leave me. But if I can call something graphic and beautifully written in the same breath, this book deserves that statement. You can read my full 5-star review here.

What I’m Listening To:

Wounded Rhymes album by Lykke Li. I was driving between cities a lot this week, and this was my soundtrack for the week.

What I’m Watching:

I saw Death Note for the first time! (I know. I know. Crazy, right?) I LOVE anime, but I’ve never seen Death Note despite the crazy big fan base. (Perhaps that’s why I haven’t seen it?) I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I LOVED it from episode 1. I have about 10 episodes left, but I think it’s fantastic. And I definitely think the shinigami are adorable.

I also watched 10 Cloverfield Lane, which I have mixed feelings about. I actually remember seeing Cloverfield in the theatre when I was 16, so seeing this kind-of-sequel-but-not-a-sequel of Cloverfield, was interesting. I think I had a more uncommon opinion by actually liking the first half more than the second half. I thought it was more psychological suspense at first, and then, it turned into a crazy sci-fi battle. The genre mashing didn’t feel very smooth, but it was an entertaining movie!

What I’m Baking, Making, and Drinking:

I baked stuffed peppers this week, and they were awesome! I’ve never made them before, so it was a plus that the recipe was easy. No desserts this week, but I promise they are coming.

What I’m Wearing:

I took new author photos this week, so look out for that! I wore two different outfits—one pink one, one blue one—and I’m excited to change my look. I saw a preview, and the photographer is awesome. 

What I’m Wanting:

Tallulah! That movie looks awesome. Why oh why was the release date July 29 and not June 29???

The Turncoat's Tambit by Andrea Cremer

The Turncoat’s Tambit by Andrea Cremer

Also, I LOVE The Inventor’s Secret by Andrea Cremer (and the sequel, The Conjurer’s Riddle). They are some of my favorite reads, so I cannot WAIT until November when book 3 of the trilogy releases. The Turncoat’s Gambit looks fantastic! November cannot come fast enough. Click the links if you wish to read my reviews of the first two books. I highly recommend this steampunk series.

What I’m Dreaming Of:

So, I became the first American to become the Queen of England. (Don’t ask me why or how or even if I understand why I had this dream…I mean, I do stalk the Queen’s corgis.) But, yes, I was “voted” in to become the next Queen of England, and everyone was—naturally—very put off by this. Even I was like, “Are you sure? I don’t know about this. Seems strange.” But everyone who voted was like, “You MUST!” So, I had to accept during this party, which was, apparently, only on the other side of the castle, but I had to go through all these secret passageways to get there, and there were assassins around every corner trying to kill me. They never killed me, but they did trap me, and it took me three hours to get out, but I got to the party…and everyone had left. The big surprise was that the Queen owned a Wheel of Fortune game that every Queen has to play in order to become Queen? But of course I was too late, so I didn’t get to play or become Queen. But I did get to play with her corgis.

What Else Is Going On:

I did a podcast interview this week. I look forward to sharing it, since the podcast focuses on Kansas City writers!

~SAT

#SATurday: The Lesson of Macaroni and Cheese

14 Feb

#SATurday: The Lesson of Macaroni and Cheese

When I was little, my mother was making me Macaroni and Cheese – something I continue to love to this day – and I was horrified when she poured it down the sink right in front of me. Of course, that isn’t what she had actually done. In reality, she had poured it into a strainer I couldn’t see from my position near the kitchen’s island. But I still screamed.

I started crying uncontrollably. I was starving (at least, I was starving in my kid mind), and she had just made food for me only to throw it away. As my five-year-old self began crying out my explanation (because she had asked when I was so upset), she began laughing uncontrollably. Now – in my tiny dramatic brain – she was laughing in my face. Of course, she hadn’t thrown out my food, but I think my panic surprised her so much she had no other way to react. Because she couldn’t stop laughing, she actually had to pick up the strainer to show me that my food was fine. After that, we were both laughing.

It might seem strange – and perhaps, it is – but this memory is one of my fondest memories I have of my late mother. Probably because she later taught me how to cook Macaroni and Cheese before she died, but I mainly love this memory because we were doing something together.

kft-288b_1z

I only had eleven years with my mom, many of which I don’t remember, and she was often too ill to do much, so my memories with her are fleeting – probably unmemorable to the kid who gets a lifetime with a mom – but then again, maybe not. I guess I’ll never know, but I do think about aspects of my life like this a lot, and I’m very grateful for even the tiniest moments because even the tiniest moments last a lifetime. Her lessons have stayed with me, after all.

Let’s take this memory for example. When she started cooking, I was really excited, and then, when she “poured it down the sink”, I was crushed, but then, I realized it was not what it seemed, and everything was fine. In fact, I was one step closer to eating, and I got to laugh so hard it stuck with me for life.

On my bad days, I try to remember Macaroni and Cheese. Aside from the pasta being possibly the best comfort food in the world – no exaggeration – I think there is a lot to learn from the lesson of the strainer. When everything appears to be going down the sink, so to speak, maybe it’s only being strained of all the bad stuff so you can move on to the best part – eating. And I do love eating.

We’re only getting closer to enjoying it, but that doesn’t mean we can’t laugh along the way.

~SAT

TTSP.S. I am taking on more clients who need book reviews, interviews, and editing! I provide the first chapter’s edit for free. If you’re interested, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

In the meantime, check out Tiger Tail Soup by Nicki Chen. This historical novel was inspired by true tales about the Japanese occupation, and I recommend it to readers who enjoy historical fiction, literary fiction, and women’s fiction like The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan.

May’s Ketchup

31 May

May’s Ketchup is here! But it will be VERY different from my usual Ketchup. Since guest bloggers represented two weeks this month, I won’t have a place for guest bloggers. Instead, I will organize it according to popularity and subject, linking to both the post and the guest bloggers’ websites. I also didn’t upload any new episodes to Coffee and Cats, so there isn’t a slot for YouTube videos. (I’m sure it will make more sense as you scroll down.) But – as usual – I will include the monumental moments, the top three posts, the post I wish got more views, the number one searched term, my top referrer other than search engines, the websites that supported ShannonAThompson.com, and all of the other blog posts organized by topic. I hope these Ketchup posts continue to help other bloggers or interested readers in understanding the behind-the-scenes here at ShannonAThompson.com. If you have something you would like me to add to these posts, please let me know.

I want to share the photos below for two reasons. My brother got married this month, and this photo was taken in the rose garden during the wedding rehearsal. I now have a sister! (Yah!) And the second reason is because these flowers are so beautiful that I wanted to share them in the sense that I want them to be for you. I want you to enjoy them, even if it is just over the computer, because beauty like this should be shared with everyone.

With all my love,

SAT

10373851_686622458051605_3620499909607094910_n

Big Moments:

Three of my poems released on Whispers in the Dark radio. Although I’m a novelist, I’m also a poet, and poetry is an intrinsic part of my soul. These are the four horror poems, and his readings are amazing: In-sum-knee-ah (Insomnia) – This Waiting Place – Her Button Collection, Now Mine – Glitter Rain.

ShannonAThompson.com hit 16,000 followers, and actor and martial artist, Tony Jaa, quoted Seconds Before Sunrise. Tony Jaa is known for his work in Ong-bak 1, 2, and 3 as well as Fast & Furious 7. tonyjaa

I interviewed David Congalton – You’ll see the post below, but I wanted to mention it up here, because I was truly honored to be able to speak with the writer of the movie, Authors Anonymous – a movie I definitely suggest for any writer.

Colt Coan – a Kansas City photographer – also created the amazing portraits you will now see on my social media pages. Here’s his website. We’re planning on working together on more projects in the future, too, so look out for that.

I also joined Tumblr and Pinterest. If you share anything from my Pinterest, I will share the photo on my Facebook pages and credit your websites. I plan on sharing insights about my novels in the future with my Pinterest, so I’m really excited about joining this social media site.

Top Three Blog Posts:

1. My Next Novel, Take Me Tomorrow, is Almost Here!: If being grateful could burst through a computer screen, my emotions would. I am blown away by how much you all supported my next novel. I cannot wait to share more. (Seriously. I have to restrain myself to prevent spoiling too much.) That being said, the restraints will soon be removed, so expect more information and excerpts to start coming your way in June. If you want to be on the review list, email me at shannonathompson@aol.com. If you want to know more about my YA, dystopian novel about a clairvoyant drug click here to visit Goodreads.

2. From Wattpad to Publication: I will confess. I was so nervous about this post that I almost didn’t share it. I shared some of my greatest struggles I’ve ever had in publishing and writing in this post. Although it is long, it is meaningful, and I hope it encourages those writers who’ve given up – because I did. I completely surrendered.

3. Getting Unstuck as an Author by Hanne Arts: This guest blogger shared fantastic insights on how to find yourself again.

This is the first time my name was #1 :D Thank you!

This is the first time my name was #1 😀 Thank you!

The Post I Wish Received More Views: 

Marking Mother’s Day with Bookmarks: Mother’s Day is a beautiful day for many people, but for the motherless it can be a severe struggle. I shared how I cope as a motherless daughter, but I also shared how bookmarks have shaped me as a person overtime.

Other Blog Posts, Organized by Topic: 

My Novels

Writing Tips

Reading

My top referrer other than search engines was my Facebook page.

My top referrer other than search engines was my Facebook page.

News

Fun

At the end of the month, I also like to share my helpers. If you would like to review any of my novels, poetry, or short stories I am available at shannonathompson@aol.com. I am also open to interviews and features! I love emails. Don’t hesitate. I am almost always online, too, so I don’t need a lot of notice. Again, shannonathompson@aol.com. (Do I sound like I’m begging yet? I hope I sound like I am begging. It adds a bit of entertaining drama, I think. Unless you’re not into that. Then, I hope I sound like I’m just being nice :D)

My Guest Bloggers: Pau Castillo, Hanne Arts, Ron EstradaRyan AttardJonas Lee, and Misha Burnett

Reviews: Books for ThoughtConfessions of a Book Geek

Interviews:Books for Thought, The Literary Syndicate, Confessions of a Book Geek, Whispers in the Dark

Features: Friday Fiction, The Hot Books Boutique, Reviews and Recommendations

Photographers: Colt Coan took photos of me that are now updated on all of my websites.

I used this photo because it reminded me of Jessica and Eric in The Timely Death Trilogy.

I used this photo because it reminded me of Jessica and Eric in The Timely Death Trilogy.

~SAT

%d bloggers like this: